With summer here, it's time to start looking at some shorts. Fortunately, state TV network TVE's Versión Española show has just made some recommendations at a prize-giving ceremony to honor the winners of its eighth Iberoamerican Short Film Competition, where a Cuban documentary nipped two Spanish fiction films to the top award, which came accompanied by 20,000 euros for director Jessica Rodríguez Sánchez.
El mundo de Raúl, which was screened at Madrid's Berlanga theater last week along with the other shortlisted films, is an extraordinary exercise in sincerity. Although the movie points out that his name, along with those of others in the film, has been changed to protect his identity, "Raúl" explains his secret life as a voyeur in scenes that are, by turn, heart-rending and humorous. An expert optician in his small town, Raúl leads the viewer through the main elements of his life: his devotion to his work, to his family home and his mother, who has dementia and needs Raúl to do everything for her.
Raúl could be a model of the revolutionary new man, but then we go on one of his afternoon walks
He could be a model of the revolutionary new man, but Raúl then takes us on one of his afternoon walks. We see him watching teenage schoolgirls preparing a dance routine for an upcoming celebration, and then he heads for the garden fence of Gilda -- "the love of my life" -- as she hangs out her washing to dry.
Second prize went to Iván Caso, the first-time director of Muy cerca, a beautifully filmed piece that is as enigmatic as it is a feast for the senses. Filmed in the coastal pine forests of the Landes region in southwestern France, it follows the strained emotions of actress Isabel Blanco and the children accompanying her as they stray from the path that is meant to lead to the beach. The sound of the wind in the pine needles is treacherous, as are the viewer's preconceptions of what is really going on between the characters.
Third prize went to the comedy Nadie tiene la culpa by Esteban Crespo. The winning shorts will be shown on Versión Española next Tuesday night.